I have been casually following the off-season trading in the National Hockey League which I find quite intriguing. I was trying to draw parallels to the business world because like any business owner I want to have the best team possible … the “right people on the bus” as Jim Collins author of Good to Great might suggest.
The environment is a little different in the NHL to the general business environment… careers are a little shorter, salaries are significantly higher than most employees and players move around between teams a fair bit (well maybe that might not be so different)!
NHL players operate in a very public environment and are subject to intense scrutiny, so any poor performance is examined under the microscope. Teams certainly don’t allow players to continue to under perform long term … but then again neither do good companies.
Teams are typically keen to get new, young up and coming players to nurture and mature into tomorrow’s stars … good companies like to invest in new people, give them training, mentoring and opportunity to grow and become star performers too.
NHL teams also like to have a good mix of mature, proven performers on their teams. Players who can provide stability, leadership and who can deliver consistently in addition to being role models for the younger players. Good companies also rely on their proven employees to be consistent, bring stability and provide leadership to the next generation leaders.
NHL teams are always looking to get better, they add new talent and discard players for a variety of reasons. Players leave to get more money elsewhere … just like business. Players leave because they feel they have a better chance of success elsewhere … just like business. Players leave because they don’t deliver to the expectations of the team … just like business. Players leave to make way for new players who might be a better fit … probably a more rare occurrence in business, but it happens. NHL teams acquire new talent within their budgets … as do businesses and as mentioned both NHL teams and businesses like to bring in new employees to train and grow.
NHL teams jettison management if they are not able to reach the goals set by the club … just like business.
NHL teams ARE of course a business, but their business is entertainment and they need to bring a reasonable return to their owners … just like any business.
The teams that are most successful are just that … Great TEAMs, and so are the best businesses. Most businesses don’t have an off season in which to work on their team, it is a constant and always present goal for any company that wants to be great!
So … just like NHL teams, every good company should be looking to improve their talent, and just like the NHL that is always a challenge particularly in today’s environment of skills shortages!